China, Japan discuss marine protection in disputed seas

April 04, 2012

China has proposed joint projects with Japan in marine environment protection in the East China Sea as part of efforts to ease tension over the disputed Senkaku Islands located in the sea, sources familiar with bilateral ties said on Monday.

According to a report in the Kyodo News on Tuesday, foreign ministers of the two countries are expected to discuss the issue when they meet on the sidelines of a trilateral foreign ministerial meeting with South Korea in Ningbo, eastern China, this weekend, the sources said.

The Chinese government made the proposal early this year following an agreement between Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in late December that the two countries would create a new bilateral mechanism to discuss maritime security, including crisis management involving incidents in the East China Sea.

The two countries have begun studies on joint projects. In Japan, government agencies such as the Environment Ministry appear to be studying scientific research in areas such as marine ecology as one of the envisaged joint projects, according to the sources.

By promoting joint projects, Japan hopes to create an environment in which the two countries can resume negotiations at an early date toward concluding a treaty on joint gas development in the East China Sea, the sources said.